Today, almost every small business depends on computer technology. As a small business owner it is hard to keep up with the constant updating of software, hardware, and Web applications.
You can’t afford to assume that your PCs, laptops, networks and peripherals are operating adequately for your needs, but neither should you upgrade just for the sake of upgrading. Thousands of people regret purchasing bargain hardware that doesn’t perform as promised, or using unproven software that crashes on a regular basis. Then there are the email accounts that attract only spam, and websites that frustrate and discourage customers.
Fortunately, there are now hundreds of network computer and IT consultants who specialize in working with small companies. In fact, the vast majority of them are entrepreneurs just like you!
An outside tech expert can become a vital extension of your business, almost like a trusted attorney or accountant. But, not just anyone with a little PC smarts will do. You’ll want someone who does this full-time for you and other clients rather than a person who merely dabbles in computers on the side.
To find the right fit, develop a detailed list of your needs and how you want the person to work including part-time, on-call or a project basis. Look for someone who understands your type of business. They should also be able to explain the work in plain English so you or someone else in your business can learn how it all works.
Experience with businesses of your size is also important. Someone who works only with big companies may not be familiar with the best solutions for you. You should tap your independent tech guru for advice before making hardware or software purchases. A few minutes on the phone can prevent costly mistakes.
A good place to find IT consultants for your small business is the nonprofit Independent Computer Consultants Association. Its website at www.icca.org offers a search feature to identify consultants by location or special skills. Note that a consultant need not be in your geographic area to benefit your firm. Depending on your needs, you may be able to work with someone entirely by phone and/or email. Another good local source for information: Savannah Better Business Bureau and Buy Local Savannah. These organizations will assist you in finding the right IT professional for your project.
To learn more about technology issues facing your small business, contact America’s free and confidential source of small business mentoring and coaching. SCORE is a nonprofit association of more than 12,000 business experts who volunteer as mentors. SCORE offers free mentoring and low-cost workshops nationwide. The Savannah SCORE Chapter can be reached at 912-652-4335 or go to the website at www.savannah.score.org. The Savannah SCORE Chapter also has a Facebook page and invites you to become a fan and learn from a team of business executives on how to manage your business effectively and profitability — www.facebook.com/score.savannah.